By Bethan Norris, Senior Editor of Study Travel Magazine

In the UK this week, thousands of 18 year olds received their A-level results and discovered whether their future dreams of university education at home or overseas has become a reality. As is predictable at this time of the year, the results have fuelled further debate regarding the sturdiness of the A-level qualification and whether it is truly able to distinguish between top level university candidates. Increasingly UK universities are looking for something other than brilliant A-level results and this has an impact on the hopes of international students applying to UK universities as well.

In last week's 'View from the desk of', Bhavani Phatak, Enrichment Manager at Bellerby's College described the new enrichment programme the college has developed for all students in order to broaden their outlook outside the classroom. Phatak points out that increasingly UK universities are looking for something extra from their applicants, as well as top class exam results, and international students with serious career ambitions have to be as mindful of this as their UK counterparts. Another top secondary school in the UK sent us a press release last week highlighting their impressive A-level results but also pointing to another trend among students - an increase in the number sitting the Extended Project Qualification. This takes the form of an extended 5,000 word report in an academic subject outside their main programme of study and is increasingly used by universities as a way to distinguish between able candidates with similar A-level results.

In other secondary school news this week, Canada's international education industry has been dealt a blow due to teacher strikes in secondary schools in the province of British Columbia. This has disrupted international summer courses that are held in July and August and could go on to disrupt the start of the school year in September. BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender commented that last year, k-12 schools in the province welcomed 14,000 international students and it is likely that the strikes will damage their reputation overseas unless the situation can be resolved promptly. Latest SEVP statistics from Canada's North American neighbour revealed that the number of visa-holding students at secondary schools in the US increased between 2013 and 2104 from 35,675 to 39,597, so Canada should watch out that any potential secondary students from overseas do not choose to study in the USA instead.

Finally, it's exciting news from one of our STM Star Awards nominees this week as Liverpool-based language school Lila* in the UK has announced a new centre in London. Another STM Star award nominee, Langports, is also due to open a Sydney campus in three weeks’ time, which all goes to show how agent voters seems to appreciate schools that are dynamic and progressive in their business plans.

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